Light and Shadow
0

8 posts in this topic

390 posts

Sometimes a strong lighting angle can bring out a coin's best appearance.

 

The lamps that I use for my coin photographs are too bulky to allow placement near the camera lens so I have to experiment with different angles in relation to the plane of the coin's surface. I have a couple of small LEDs lamps on order that will allow me to get close to a perpendicular angle, but until they arrive I have to make due with what I have.

 

I've read advice that for coins with portraits, you should try to light the face in a natural way -- as if lit from above by sunlight. Here's my best attempt at that on a young Catherine the Great from a 1764 Rouble minted in Saint Petersburg.

16530.JPG

 

See more journals by jgenn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
390 posts

And some coins have lots of surface flaws that show up if you light them the wrong way. For my Draped bust $1 I haven't been able to get a nice result with the same lighting angle. My best looking photos of it do a good job of hiding most of the surface flaws.

154036.jpg.f4b9303dc860d5384d43a401d7abe77a.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4,045 posts

jgenn...that Rouble is to die for! FANTASTIC coin! Congrats! (thumbs u

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2,870 posts

 

I don't think you needed those LED Jansjo's Jack and when they get to you you might find them somewhat limited -- your lighting looks very good and those are good photos.

 

It helps to have nice coins to start with though doesn't it? Those are nice! ;)

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1,300 posts

Jack

You're well on your way! I'm with Brandon on the Rouble. The face is nicely lit and the lighting on the rest of the coin is even. The gun-metal toning also comes out very well. The Bust Dollar shows that no two coins are the same, thus no two lighting set-ups are the same either. There is a right lighting scheme for that coin that you just haven't discovered yet. However, I have confidence that you WILL! Oh, BTW for whatever reason, I find the reverses of most coins easier to get a good picture just as you have there with the Bust Dollar. All the best.

Gary

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4,045 posts

@jgenn, if you haven't seen it before, here is a link to my thread on coin lighting techniques from a few years back. It will help you see how different lighting angles make a coin look differently.

 

From your images, I can tell that your lights are coming at the coin surface from quite a low angle. This manifests as a halo of light surrounding the edges of the design elements (devices). Low angle of light sources also make coin surfaces look more flat and decrease the dynamic range (squeeze your histogram).

 

As you increase the angle of the light sources, the outline of the devices become more of a "shadow" area offsetting the design from the fields. The devices and field are more evenly lit, and the dynamic range is greater (which also improves the look of toning, luster, and the metallic surfaces in general). See my annotated graphic below. I hope this helps a little!

 

Lighting_levels_histogram_halo_shadow_zpsm8y6amml.jpg

 

Adding in a 3rd light also improves the total look of some coin images, it just depends on the size of the coin, the footprint of your lights, and the height of your lights. For example, see below:

 

Lighting_two_vs_three_zps4b650d24.jpg

 

All the best, Brandon

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
390 posts

Thanks for the comments and thanks, Brandon for the diagrams and link to your awesome previous post.

~jack

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
0